Acolytes of Pina Bausch keep her dance in mo­tion

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The dance com­pany that leg­endary Ger­man chore­og­ra­pher Pina Bausch, who died in 2009, built into one of the world’s most ac­claimed is do­ing its ut­most to foster her mov­ing legacy. Beloved of fel­low artists and seen as a vi­sion­ary by her peers in the dance world, Bausch mixed dance and the­atre to pro­duce a tu­mult of emo­tions, free from tra­di­tional con­straints, that of­ten di­vided au­di­ences. “I’m not in­ter­ested in how peo­ple move, but in what moves them,” she said shortly be­fore her death from can­cer.

Now her life’s work is be­ing hon­ored with a Ber­lin ex­hi­bi­tion, “Pina Bausch and the Tanzthe­ater”, where mem­bers of the com­pany will of­fer up to five work­shops a day to cu­ri­ous vis­i­tors and dance lovers un­til Jan­uary 7. “I couldn’t have imag­ined that you could ex­press your­self with­out dif­fi­cult tech­nique, and that it could be so much fun,” said 38-year-old Ker­stin Brennscheidt, who had brought her son to re­hearse a piece from Bausch’s 1982 work “Nelken” (Car­na­tions).

The ex­hi­bi­tion recre­ates the “Licht­burg”, a for­mer cin­ema in the western in­dus­trial city of Wup­per­tal that Bausch turned into the head­quar­ters of her dance rev­o­lu­tion. “Some­how she’s still there in us. I feel her aura around us. It’s over­pow­er­ing,” said Aus­tralian Jo Ann Endi­cott, 66, who be­came the chore­og­ra­pher’s as­sis­tant af­ter be­ing one of the star dancers of the Tanzthe­ater.

‘Rein­vented from scratch’

By the time Bausch passed away her pop­u­lar­ity was such that her com­pany had to take to the stage that very same night to sat­isfy de­mand. Things had been very dif­fer­ent when she be­gan her work in the 1970s. “We would be­gin our shows in packed rooms and end them in half-empty ones,” the Tanzthe­ater’s Mechthild Gross­mann told fem­i­nist magazine Emma in 2010. “In Bochum, in 1978, we had to stop the show. Peo­ple were stand­ing and throw­ing things onto the stage.” Bausch’s per­sonal style was a stark con­trast to the clas­si­cal forms that dom­i­nated the world of chore­og­ra­phy at the time.

She em­ployed ex­ag­ger­ated ex­pres­sions and scenery to ex­plore the hu­man con­di­tion with a mix­ture of mis­chief, sar­casm, joy and de­spair. Beyond the chore­og­ra­phy’s en­ergy, the Tanzthe­ater sur­vivors strive to com­mu­ni­cate Bausch’s hu­mor and sen­si­tiv­ity to au­di­ences that may not be steeped in the world of mod­ern dance. There’s no doubt that the chore­og­ra­pher made his­tory with her work, and the earth, fields of car­na­tions, wa­ter­falls and an­i­mals that in­hab­ited her stages have in­spired many who came later. But only the per­form­ers, with their deep bond to the com­pany, can pass on their roles to oth­ers-a de­mand­ing task for such an in­tan­gi­ble art form. Bausch would set dancers in mo­tion with hints-”full moon”, “de­sire”, or “at the be­gin­ning”-be­fore com­bin­ing their re­sponses into a whole. “When you’ve found what you’re look­ing for, you know it,” she once said. “Ev­ery­thing had to be rein­vented from scratch,” said Gross­mann. “Just don’t sing like a singer, just don’t act like an ac­tor, just don’t dance like a dancer.”

Dis­ci­ples’ task

Since Bausch’s death, her com­pany has stepped up the ef­fort of pass­ing on her works to the younger gen­er­a­tion within their own ranks and to other pro­fes­sional dancers. The chore­og­ra­pher’s dis­ci­ples have com­mu­ni­cated their se­crets to the Paris Opera Bal­let, the Bavar­ian state bal­let and the Na­tional English Bal­let in re­cent years. And Bausch deputy, Endi­cott, has branched out even fur­ther by stag­ing the dance “Kon­tak­thof” with a group of teenagers and over-65s. Per­haps the great­est chal­lenge for the troupe now is to be­gin cre­at­ing some­thing new, rather than just re­main­ing in their founder’s shadow as a liv­ing mon­u­ment.

For that, they need a new artis­tic di­rec­tor but as Endi­cott says, “you can’t bring a copy of Pina, that’s the most ridicu­lous thing you could do.” The three pieces of­fered by the Tanzthe­ater at the end of 2015 met with mixed re­cep­tions. Now, the faith­ful who Bausch left be­hind have pinned their hopes on Adolphe Bin­der, a Ro­ma­nian with­out dance train­ing who will have to con­vince scep­tics that she can rekin­dle the magic in Wup­per­tal when she takes the reins in May. — AFP

A vis­i­tor look­ing on a pic­ture wall with pho­to­graphs from the unique hold­ings of the Pina Bausch Ar­chives, at the “Pina Bausch and the Tanzthe­ater” ex­hi­bi­tion.

Aus­tralian dancer Josephine Ann Endi­cott, for­mer as­sis­tant to Ger­man chore­og­ra­pher Pina Bausch, giv­ing a dance work­shop to vis­i­tors at the re­con­structed “Licht­burg” prac­tice space.

Pic­ture shows Aus­tralian dancer Josephine Ann Endi­cott, for­mer as­sis­tant to Ger­man chore­og­ra­pher Pina Bausch. — AFP pho­tos

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